Both the Netherlands and Denmark have made announcements signalling a move towards implementing non-lawyer ownership.
The Netherlands Bar Association (NOvA) has announced a 5-year experiment, which would allow lawyers in the non-lawyer run SRK legal aid organisation to deliver non-legal services. NOvA has said that the move is coming as part of a broader investigation into a possible ‘new system of regulations regarding permitted corporate structures for lawyers’. The sandbox-style experiment is capped at 5 years per organisation, with NOvA saying that other organisations are welcome to apply.
The move does not come out of the blue. The Dutch competition authority (ACM) had been putting pressure on NOvA to amend rules in order to improve market conditions.
In related news the Danish Competition Council has released a report analyzing competition in the legal profession. The report has found that the industry had a turnover of NOK 14.7 billion in 2018 and just over 1,800 firms. It also discovered that almost 70% of the turnover in the industry was generated by corporate clients, with only 11% being consumer work.
Based on this the Competition Council has presented 16 recommendations that can strengthen competition in legal services, providing improved access to justice. Amongst these recommendations is the inclusion of new business models, in the legal sector.